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November 28, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-28

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4- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 28, 2000

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Democrats and mashed potatoes: Adult table talk

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
.students at the
University of Michigan

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion offthe majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Longer Thanksgiving break is warranted

F or the first time ever, I didn't have to sit
at the children's table for Thanksgiving.
Yes, for the past 19 years of my life I have
been isolated to a card table and folding chair
no less than five feet away from the adult
table. Although this seating arrangement does
afford me the opportu-
nity to talk about the
"Rugrats" movie and
middle school dances,
never did it let me
express my political
views while forming
mashed potatoes into a
giant volcano. This is
the thrilling experi-
ence I got when sitting
at the "big" table this
Thanksgiving.-
In the past, I would Erin
always end up some- McQuinn
how lumped in with
my ten and 11-year-
old cousins rather than
my 20-year-old broth-
er when it comes to seating arrangements.
Could it be because of my deep desire to start
a food fight or say something "inappropriate"
during dinner? I think not. Now I realize my
strategic suspension at the children's table
was a mere ploy to hide the black sheep of
the family - the single Democrat among a
sea of Republicans.
My family doesn't "talk" politics - they
are politics. It's gotten to the point where
words don't need to be said - a self-reflec-
tive smile and slow nod with those far gazing
eyes has come to symbolize the thought of
Republicans, Republicanism and all things
"American." My grandmother doesn't need

her remote control anymore as all she ever
turns on is C-Span. So you can imagine the
general disgust of the family when I said I
voted for Gore.
My uncle, otherwise in a dead sleep, shot
awake. Not even a fire alarm could rival his
snoring, yet one mention of the word "Gore"
and he was conscious with disbelief. My
mother, trying to cover up an obvious mis-
communication pleaded that I was just a col-
lege student, and even she voted for
McGovern when she was in school. But it
was much, much too late. In their minds, I
had lost all sense with reality. Who was this
girl sitting across from them at the table?
Obviously not the same child they had
attempted to brain-wash in earlier years with
little stuffed elephant toys and such. After an
exchange of distressed glances around the
table, someone broke the silence with "No
Christmas presents for you this year!" But
unfortunately, it was all too true. I could see
them all making little mental notes to buy me
"A Charge to Keep" by George W. Bush.
But while I was making a sad attempt to
spin the Reddi-whip artfully on the pumpkin
pie, I stopped to think - was my mother
right? Was I only a Democrat because I was
in college? And more than that, I was attend-
ing the University of Michigan - a liberal
campus to say the least. Or was it the other
way around; had I sought out the University
because it echoed the liberal beliefs I'd been
hiding all my life? Not quite sure of the
answer I discarded the question in search of a
couch to take a nap on. But I should've
known I wouldn't be so lucky.
One by one, my uncles approached me
muttering phrases about the "value of a dol-
lar" and stuff like that. It was all too easy for

them in the past election to tear apart Clin-
ton's character in support of Dole: "I want an.
honorable president," was all that needed to
be said. But in this election, they couldn't do
that all-too-easy character attack as it was
their candidate who was the party boy. So
they had to dig deeper just to show me how
naive I was.
But I was ready. I had known that it
wouldn't be easy to defend my views, so I
came prepared with the eight little words that
could instantly turn the conversation to my
favor: "I'm going to apply to the B-School."
Yes, it was a dirty little trick as I have no
interest whatsoever in anything associated
with Lorch Hall, but I was in a bind - what
can I say? At that very second I received the
enthusiastic yet cheesy two-thumbs up, uncle
seal of approval: "Good choice!" It was as if
all past sins of pro-choice and gun control
had been forgiven. The Democratic shroud
just seemed to slip off as I had seemingly
committed myself to a lifetime of reading the
Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and
World Report. The conversation went on like
that with a lot of nodding on my part and a
strange longing for the children's table ...
True, in the end, I had lied to avoid a heat-,
ed political debate. However, I was outnum-
bered 15 to one, so I don't feel that bad. What
I do regret, though, is the fact that all these
years I had begged for a seat at the adult table
when deep down inside all I ever wanted was
to reminisce about middle school dances and
take turns blowing milk out of straws at my
cousins. With all the insanity of life, it's good
not to ever lose touch with the children's
table.
-.Erin McQuinn can be reached
via e-mail at emcquinn@umich.edu.

A s tests and papers pile up, students
anxiously await Thanksgiving
break every year. While a four-day
break has been common practice, the
University would be wise to give stu-
dents a longer break for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving serves as the first
major break for students since the
beginning of school in September -
two days off from classes after three
months hardly serves as adequate time
fbr a respite. In fact, students are at even
more of a disadvantage because the Uni-
versity does not allot time for a fall
break, which is standard practice at
many other leading academic institu-
tions around the country. Couple this
with the fact that students have only
three study days before finals - two of
which fall on the weekend - and the
need for fall term scheduling reform is
blatantly evident.
There are many avenues the Univer-
sity could use to ameliorate the current
dearth of breaks given to students. One
easy method would be to institute a fall
break in mid-October. This would give
students a breather during the first hec-
tic: months of the academic year. It
would also be of aid to first year stu-
dents who are unaccustomed to the rig-
drs of college work.
Additionally, the University cheats
its students by only offering three study
days. Adding more study days during
the week before exams would allow stu-
dents to properly prepare themselves for

finals.
At the very least, Thanksgiving
break should be extended by a day or
more. A cancellation of classes on either
the preceding Wednesday or the Mon-
day following the current break would
allow students more time to enjoy break
and make headway into term papers and
finals preparations. Additionally, many
out-of-state students need the extra time
to schedule flights during the hectic hol-
iday travel season. Instead of forcing
these students to choose between skip-
ping classes and traveling home, the
University would do well to improve the
situation by adding an extra day or two
to Thanksgiving break.
There are many options at the Uni-
versity's disposal to improve the quali-
ty of student life by reforming the fall
term schedule. But if the problem is
simply ignored, it will only grow larg-
er until the University is forced to deal
with it in the form of a subpar perfor-
mance from the student body. The
University must recognize that stu-
dents cannot be expected to function
at their full potential - academically,
socially or physically - without ade-
quate rest and relaxation. Once this
has been established a meaningful dia-
logue can be opened between mem-
bers of the administration and the
students to create mutually acceptable
changes within the schedule of the fall
term. Now that would be something
for which to give thanks.

'I saw the ballots. It was ridiculous
how shady they were.'
- Sam Eliad, LSA senior on the "butterfly ballots" used in
Palm Beach County, Florida.

I

Come together
Cooperation could lead to school reform

W ith a resounding voice the voters
of Michigan decried the voucher
initiative by dealing Proposal 1 a land-
slide defeat. While the voucher issue is
not dead, it appears that its defeat in the
election has placed the issue on the
back burner. Many voucher advocates
are now trying to pursue education
reform that is not contingent upon the
passage of vouchers. Lu Battalieri,
president of the anti-voucher Michigan
Education Association and Dick
DeVos, Co-Chairman of the pro-vouch-
er group, Kids First! Yes! have initiated
a dialogue on education reform.
This dialogue is noteworthy in that
the two political extremes appear to be
willing to overlook their differences and
work jointly to further the real special
interests - the students. While this dia-
logue might produce little in the way of
novel education reforms, it is also pos-
sible that some progress might be made.
The gesture of goodwill behind this dia-
logue and the apparent severing of the

voucher issue from the greater issue of
educational reform are positive actions
which promise real, popular improve-
ments in education. Rather than waste
time and resources fighting over an
issue that the public rejected, it is com-
mendable that both the proponents and
opponents of Proposal 1 are willing to
discard their past divisions and find
common ground to further education
reform.
The educational system in Michigan
has problems which demand addressing.
Until no child is limited by educational
opportunities, adjustment and reform of
the educational system are necessary.
The MEA and other opponents of Pro-
posal 1 showed discretion and diplomacy
by inviting their opponents to work con-
currently with them. With the over-
whelming defeat of Proposal 1 and the
ensuing cooperation between the former
opponents and proponents, the real win-
ners are the educational system and the
students of Michigan.

Drinking age should
not be lowered
TO THE DAILY:
In response to the editorial on binge drinking
("Enough is enough," 11/21/00), I must dis-
agree with the statement asserted that lowering
the drinking age would encourage less binge
drinking. By lowering the drinking age, we
would only be shifting the bingeing problem to a
younger age. Additionally, the serious and dead-
ly disease of alcoholism would not be affected
by the age change. Allowing younger people to
drink will-not automatically increase knowledge
and awareness of the health issues of drinking.
Only informative and meaningful health educa-
tion will increase knowledge and effect change
in behaviors.
Unfortunately, we live in a reactive society
in which issues such as binge drinking must
arrive at a crisis state before important programs
are supported. Messages and education are not
delivered until it is too late and lives are already
being lost. Education on drinking must be more
than commercials, posters and letters in the mail.
I do agree with the Daily's statement, "binge
drinking is everyone's problem." It requires all
of us - friends, classmates, resident advisors,
faculty and staff - to notice and reach out to
those around us who may have a drinking prob-
lem. It is our responsibility to encourage those
with stress and drinking problems to seek help
or be prepared to read of the death of another
classmate due to alcohol.
KIM KOVALCHICK
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK
Daily shows pattern
of sexism in stories
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to register with the Daily a
troubling pattern of sexism that I have seen in
a college newspaper that should be the bea-
con of excellence in college journalism. First
there was the column by Branden Sanz
("Making life just a little bit easier for men,"

10/25/00) which was unveiled chauvinism -
from suggesting women refrain from hair-
styles that make their faces look fat, to sug-
gesting that women "employ the Designated
Ugly Fat Friend properly," it was an
appalling piece.
Then the Daily's insert on pornography
was out two weeks ago. While I appreciated
the Daily's attempt to portray a balanced
investigation into pornography, I did not
appreciate you printing the "top 10 adult
films of all time." This would be akin to
doing a report on the "pros and cons of drink-
ing alcohol" and then printing a "top 10 alco-
holic beverages of all time" list. By printing
the top 10, the Daily is endorsing pornogra-
phy, when many people see it as objectifying
and humiliating to women, as well as sanc-
tioning violence and sexual assault against
women. A case in point: In the No. 2 movie
named, Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace was
forced to perform the sexual acts on film at
gunpoint by her husband/manager. Is this
what the Daily should be representing?.

I opened the paper a week ago and was
excited for humorous mock "pleas" from
each candidate as to why he should be presi-
dent. I was dismayed to find unwarranted
sexism, which I assume the columnists would
excuse by saying that these were supposedly
the words of thickheaded candidates, not the
writers themselves. That doesn't fly with me.
Waj Syed ("Being George W. Bush: Why I
deserve to be President," 11/21/00) calling
Katherine Harris a "bitch" and joking about
interns who will "shut up and put out like
good Southern belles are supposed to" is gra-
tuitous, outrageous misogyny.
This kind of disrespect would not be con-
doned against another minority group. There
has been too much silence about this incredi-
ble disrespect leveled at the women on this
campus. It makes me sad that sexism is seen
as funny and slips into the Daily with such
startling frequency.
BROOKE DUNITZ-JOHNSON
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

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Celebrate.a God-free holiday season

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g is the season for giving you know - oh
l and are they ever giving!
Who are these givers you ask? Silly secular-
ist Ann Arborite! While you read the Daily's
"biased" editorial page and wait for some lib-
eral academic to
impress his or her dirty
humanistic theories on.
you, millions of Ameri-
ca's righteous religious
folk are thinking about%
(or doing) the work of a
divine entity of their
choice.
This holiday season1
we can all look forward
to hearing about the
good works of all sorts
of religious groups,
although the spotlight Woomer
will focus mostly on x.
C'rritSvn ' The namew

death has to be good. Faith gives purpose to
people's lives and makes them feel warm and
fuzzy; besides, the worst thing that can happen
is that those who consider themselves "heaven
bound" all end up disappointed when their time
comes.
But attitudes like this are what make even
the most non-judgmental types of spirituality
so sinister.
Religion is one of the most powerful forces
maintaining the social, political and economic
status quo. Mass acceptance of any type of
spirituality that promises a better existence
after death gives people an incentive to be sat-
isfied with the quality of their own lives and
the lives of those around them. If you're certain
that eternal paradise or a better next life waits,
there ceases to be any motivation to risk much
here on earth. With poor people - many of
whom can expect to die relatively young - the
argument to "wait for heaven" might seem
teneiali, vcmnellinu

that people won't be able to control themselves
without a God, what could it be? It seems to
me that the hypothetical doom and gloom sce-
nario that so many people appear to think pop-
ular atheism would unleash would be nothing
more than a radical movement on the part of
marginalized classes to demand equality in
social, economic and political spheres.
If religion really is just a way to keep people
who wouldn't otherwise be content quiet, then
there seem to be only two ways to fix it that
would not involve gross violations of people's
civil and human rights. The first way would be
for theologians to revive the few successful
religious movements that actually have been
catalysts for positive social change like the
Latin American liberation theology movement
of the '70s and '80s.
The second - and most practical way for
students - is to do a little honest reflection on
the actual social effects of spirituality and act
accnrdinglv Amnng nther thinc the nlidav

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